RV 101® – 5 RV Owner Maintenance Mishaps

There are lots of things to remember and maintain on an RV. Sometimes we tend to overlook the simplest maintenance requirements on our RVs. As the old adage goes, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. Unfortunately these simple oversights can result in costly repair bills to correct the problem too.

Here are my top 5 RV owner maintenance mishaps:

1) Checking and adding air when the tires are hot:


I see it all the time, people checking their tire pressure when the tires are hot. You should always check and inflate tires when the tires are cold, before traveling more than one mile. Hot air expands and will give you a false reading. If the tires are already hot wait several hours before checking and adjusting inflation pressure.

2) Neglecting to periodically check the water level in lead acid batteries:

One of the leading causes for battery failure is overcharging the battery. Overcharging a battery results in severe water loss and plate corrosion. This is a common problem with lead-acid RV batteries. The RV converter has a built in battery charger and lots of RV owners are under the impression that if you leave the RV plugged in when the RV is in storage it will keep the batteries topped off. While keeping batteries topped off is extremely important the problem is that many, but not all, RV converter chargers provide a constant charge of about 13.5 volts which is too high for fully charged batteries, and the electrolyte is boiled off resulting in an early death for the batteries. There have been advances in converter charger technology and many of today’s converter chargers are equipped with 3-stage battery chargers that will prevent batteries from overcharging. Another problem is during times of high battery usage and recharging the electrolyte is boiled off. Periodically checking and adjusting the water level in the batteries can save and extend the life expectancy of the battery. When you add water, use mineral free water. Distilled water is best and only fill the battery cell to 1/8 inch below the vent well. Be careful when working around batteries. Battery acid is extremely corrosive and explosive.

3) Not rinsing and flushing the black water holding tank after you empty it:

The only way to get a long service-free life from the RV black water holding tank is to rinse and flush the tank after you empty it. Some RVs have a built-in system for flushing the black water tank, but many don’t. If your RV doesn’t have  a built in flushing system there are aftermarket products like tank cleaning wands and reverse flush valves that will assist in keeping your black water tank clean, clog-free and odor-free.

4) Not performing pre-trip checks:

I think nearly every RV owner, at one time or another has learned this valuable lesson. Pre-departure checks or a final walk-around before leaving home or a campground can save you costly repair bills. Common RV repairs relating to this are repairs to the steps, TV antenna, awnings and power cords. Take a minute to walk around the RV, and look on top and underneath the RV before heading out.

5) Not periodically inspecting your RV for water damage:

Water leaks on an RV can cause extensive damage and can be extremely costly to repair. To protect your investment and your wallet you need to take the time to inspect the RV for water leaks. The outside of your RV may look fine but the internal damage caused by water over a period of time can result in the entire roof, floor or wall rotting away without you even knowing it, until it’s too late.  To prevent a leak before it starts thoroughly inspect all roof and body seams, sealants and around any openings cut in the motorhome roof or sidewalls. Reseal any seams or sealants that show signs of cracking or separation. Consult your RV owner manual for inspection intervals and for the type of sealants compatible with different types of materials.

Watch some RV roof maintenance videos here

Happy RV learning,

Mark Polk


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